I once worked for a very smart executive who often said, “It is almost impossible to overcommunicate.”
When we help a client perform a root cause analysis of their customer concerns, very often we discover that communication is at the heart of the matter. Customers often feel their issues are not receiving the attention they deserve – not because this is necessarily true, but because their suppliers are not communicating about the efforts underway to solve their problems. They are not told about progress being made (if any), or they are not told about the time and resources being directed to resolve their issues.
When we ask suppliers why they did not communicate about an issue, it’s usually not because they weren’t doing anything or thinking about the customer’s problem. Often, it’s because they did not have an immediate, comprehensive solution, and therefore felt they had nothing to say. Ironically, this is precisely the time when they need to communicate. This is time when they should reach out to their customer and tell them they are working on the issue, they haven’t forgotten. They might not have a perfect solution yet, but they expect to in the future, and they still care.
In the absence of clear communication from suppliers, customers become graduates of MSU. That is, the “university” of Making Stuff Up. They fill the information void with their own interpretations and assumptions about the supplier’s lack of communication. Often, what people make up causes them to become angry, resentful, hurt, frustrated – you name it – and none of these feelings support effective, long-term relationships. When customers are not communicated to effectively, they think their problems are not important; worse yet, they assume no one cares.
Here is the point: Are you communicating effectively with your customers? When issues arise, do they clearly understand what steps are being taken to resolve the problem? Are they fully aware of the resources you have in place to help them? Remembering it is very hard to overcommunicate, are you keeping them in the loop – even if there is bad news or no news at all? Do they know how much you care and that they are certainly not forgotten?